Stranded in Houston with Robby
or, "My Most Favorite Flight Delay Adventure, EVER!! "
... hills are filled with fire ...
It's the season of the Santa Ana winds, and the sad and tragic wildfires that are ravaging southern California are far worse this year than any other.
I had gone to Houston for the weekend for the sole purpose of seeing The Doors of the 21st Century play at Verizon Wireless Theater. I had also seen them play there on March 28th of this year.
The show was terrific, and will be reviewed separately. Following the Meet & Greet after the show, Daphne and Dawn and I returned to our hotel and stayed up late talking about the show and the band. We were too stoked to go right to sleep, but we all had morning flights back to our respective cities of Boston, San Antonio, and L.A.
Daphne called me as she headed to the other Houston airport to say that she learned that my flight to L.A. might be postponed or cancelled due to the fires. I was unable to confirm that through Continental's automated flight info, so I decided to stay on track and get to the airport. When I checked in I was told that my flight would indeed be delayed at least 3 hours. At that moment, I thought: "phooey" (or worse).
I proceeded to the gate area, took a seat by the window, and called Daphne to tell her she was right about my flight delay. To my astonishment, I spotted Robby talking to the gate agent. I told Daphne I'd call her back and moved to where Robby would see me. When he saw me, he came over and we sat down to discuss our mutual flight delay situation. I learned that Robby was alone: Ray was flying to another city not affected by the fires; Ian was going to England; Angelo was returning to L.A. by ground. The rest of the band and crew were already on the road driving back, or were still at the hotel because they were booked on a later flight. Robby had changed his return to this earlier flight. LUCKY ME.
Robby left his carry-on in my care while he wandered off to find a book or magazine. I was ecstatic. I tried to call my mom and sister Bobbie, but neither were at home. I called sister Joan at work. I called David my son. I called Beverly. When Robby returned, I told him that I had been trying to call my family and friends to bubble about my good fortune.
I had always wished for the opportunity to just sit and talk with Robby, so he could see that I'm actually a sane and responsible person despite being a slightly overzealous fan. Wish granted: we talked about all kinds of stuff. The highlights follow, in no particular order.
firestorms & Santa Ana winds - I didn't really know what 'Santa Ana winds' were when I moved to Anaheim, California in early 1982 from New Jersey. About ten days after my belongings arrived at my new apartment, I was awakened at 6 a.m. to the sound of police driving up and down the street with a bullhorn, telling everyone to GET OUT. I saw a wall of flames heading towards my apartment building driven by very strong winds. I grabbed my purse, makeup bag, briefcase, put on a bathrobe, and got out onto the street with the rest of my new neighbors. As I watched the flames consume the building next to mine, I cried over the impending loss of everything (not yet insured, and not even fully unpacked), and all my Doors stuff that was in there. Because of the roofing material on my particular building, the flames landed and then blew right off instead of igniting. There were 500 apartments with wood shake shingle roofs burned out that morning. Miraculously, mine alone was left standing, and the first 14 years of my collection survived. Wow, welcome to California.
the new D21C album - It won't be released this year, but they are working on it and its release will be next year, probably in the spring or summer of 2004. It is still planned to be all new music. (There might also be another CD of Doors blues songs).
the D21C DVD - Besides the filming that was done the prior night at Houston's Verizon Wireless, there will be more filming done in Paris for this project.
Best Of The Boots CD - Will now be called Boot Yer Butt! It should be released by Thanksgiving (late November). The CD artwork is a cartoon based on a cartoon concept drawn by Robby.
Philip Chen - Will probably be the bass player again for the European shows, as he was for the Japan shows.
camouflage - He likes it!
parents - My mom turns 87 next month, and just renewed her drivers license for four years (yikes). Robby's dad is 84 and just recently stopped driving.
Robby's cousin Marty - I met Marty after the Dallas show in March, and later conducted a hilarious phone interview with him for my website. I never finished that up for the site (shame on me), but one of these days I need to return to that and get it done. Robby gave a pre-show interview in Tucson in July, and specifically mentioned Marty's role in helping the band get radio airplay there in the 60s. Robby speaks very fondly of Marty and said he's really funny! (He is!)
his appearance on "Married With Children" - I asked Robby about the filming of the 'Rock Of Ages' episode. This was from 1992, and also featured rockers Spencer Davis, John Sebastian, Richie Havens, Peter Noone, and Mark Lindsay. Robby told me that they had to show up for an 8:00 a.m. call on the set, but then learned that they would not be needed until 3:00 ... so, he left to go do some things!!! His manager tracked him down to say that the show producers presumed that Robby had walked off the set, and offered to double his pay to get him to return ... which meant they had to double the pay for the other guests on the show, too -- making him very popular with them that day. :=) At the end of the episode, Robby (in a bright pink baseball cap) and the other rockers are in a chorus singing "We Are The Old". Robby said that was a real fun shoot. I told him that whenever this episode comes up for re-run, I list it on my website calendar.
another TV appearance - He recalled a VH-1 show that neither of us could remember the name of at the time ... but it was "The List" which aired May 19, 2000. The program was a group of panelists who picked their favorites within a topic ... that show topic was Best Female Vocalist. I remembered that he wore a big white cowboy hat on this show. He recalled that he sat next to Maria Conchita Alonso, one of his favorites!
My note-taking process ! - I was jotting on a 4x6 tablet that I had with me, and which I had used the night before to capture the set list and observations. I showed my scribbled notes to Robby, and explained that during the show I make notes of the set list, what everyone is wearing, when they jump or move around the stage, take off layers of clothes, etc. -- and then write my show reviews from those notes. Robby was amazed that I take all those notes throughout the show, and wondered how I can see in the darkness. Last night there were some house lights on because of the filming, but usually I wear a mini-light around my neck to see what I'm writing. He suggested that I take a small dictaphone into shows and record my comments that way, instead of writing in the dark.
Ian - He thinks Ian is doing a really good job as their front man (and so do I). Robby said that Ian doesn't dance or move onstage at all like Jim did, which I also agree with. I first saw Ian when he was onstage at the Whisky at either Ray's show or Robby's show there (a few months apart, I think in 2000) ... Ian's head was shaved then, and he was scary!! I told Robby that I had never been a Cult fan before, but I'm sure an Ian fan now!
Richard Thompson - I happen to be a fan of British singer / songwriter Richard Thompson. I told Robby that I saw Richard walking down the concourse with another gentleman as I was putting my sneakers back on after going through airport security. I caught Richard off-guard and in mid-yawn as I yelled out hello to him and told him I'm a fan. Robby asked if I saw Richard's performance at the Getty Museum when John appeared with him. Richard did two shows there, and I guess I was at that same show, but I didn't see Robby ... my friend and I were upstairs, and Robby sat downstairs. Robby said he is also a fan of Richard. That's no surprise .. Richard is another helluva guitar player.
John - I told Robby about seeing John and Tribaljazz play about a year ago at a Rock & Roll photography charity auction, and that Danny Sugerman and Fawn were also there that evening. I also told Robby about seeing John and poet Aram Saroyan perform at Skirball Cultural Center in June, and what that program was like. It had been a terrific evening.
memorabilia - We talked about my collection of Doors memorabilia. Robby asked me what I collect. It was easier to answer him by identifying the few categories of things that I do NOT collect!
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction - The one and only time that this ceremony was held in Los Angeles was 1993, the year The Doors were inducted. My Doors karma was in full bloom, because this exciting event fell on my birthday, to boot. A friend and I hovered around the hotel lobby that afternoon, waiting for the band members to arrive. Robby didn't know me then, but I was one of the fans who swarmed him for an autograph. I have pictures of him signing for fans, with Waylon standing alongside. After the ceremony began and the crowd thinned, Kathy and I continued to hang out and were rewarded with a nice conversation with Danny Sugerman and Fawn Hall when they came upstairs to the lobby for awhile. I have a terrific photo of the two of them, which I showed them at a book signing event some years later; they both really liked it and asked me to send them an enlargement (which I did).
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum - Dave Dutkowski and I visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland in June, following the D21C show in that city the night before. We didn't have time to tour the entire museum, but zeroed in on whatever Doors exhibits we could find before I left to get to the Pittsburgh show that night, and Dave headed toward Chicago for that show two days later. We did find a really nice exhibit about Jim, but scant little else on The Doors. Robby remarked that since the museum didn't have much of a Doors exhibit, maybe I should consider offering some of my collection to them so they could have a great Doors exhibit!
"Wonderland" movie - Daphne and I spent Saturday night in Houston by going to the movies to see "Wonderland" starring Val Kilmer as John Holmes. Those murders had occurred the year before I moved to SoCal, but Robby remembered them well. He hasn't seen the movie yet, so I told him about the way the story was told from several different perspectives. Violent and interesting!
"The Doors" movie - I was an unpaid extra on the set one day during the filming of the Oliver Stone movie. It was on Day 2 of the filming of the 'Miami incident' at L.A.'s Olympic Auditorium. Both Robby and John were on the set that day as advisors to the actors portraying them. Robby said that was a very realistic recreation of Miami. He didn't know me back then, but I was so thrilled to pass him in a hallway!
Waylon - He has been working with his new band, and recently got a new drummer. Waylon has not settled on a band name yet. Eventually he'll be doing some shows around L.A.
my son - We talked about my son David; Robby asked if he was a Doors fan. He was not when he was young, but eventually he saw the light! David's best friend from high school was a big fan. Since so many of David's favorite bands were so obviously influenced by The Doors ... it was undeniable and inevitable, and he eventually confessed that he kinda liked them. After seeing the D21C House of Blues show in January, he admitted that he was now a fan!!
lunch - Robby: thank you for lunch. I was nervous and had so many things I wanted to talk about that I could only pick at my food. Robby had sushi, and said he didn't like sushi the way it is prepared in Japan. I also learned that he doesn't like spicy food!
globe-trotting fans - The Houston show was my 18th D21C show in the 14 months since this all began in September 2002. I told Robby that as a result of following them around on tour, I have seen parts of America that I had never visited before ... but, I wondered if he realized that there are LOTS of fans like me who are crisscrossing the country to attend their shows. I cited many examples of fans that I have met at these shows. Like me, they are attending as many shows as they can, for as long as this great opportunity exists. Robby said that no, he was not aware that there were so many fans following them around to multiple shows ... and thought maybe they should include something about those (we) fans on the forthcoming DVD. That would be cool.
I crossed Robby's path one last time at the LAX baggage carousel, where he was waiting for his golf clubs. He had played while they were in Atlanta. We said goodbye, and I told him I'd see him in Paris!
It was my most extreme pleasure and honor to spend those several hours with Robby, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any fan. Afterwards I remembered many other topics I wish I'd thought of to discuss, or even had time to broach on Monday in the Houston terminal. I hope Robby enjoyed spending that flight delay time with me, too. I know we both needed to get back to L.A., but I sure wish that flight delay had been even longer ! :=)
If there is a moral to this story, it is to always take that extra time to take a shower, put on fresh makeup and fuss with the hair, even for a plane trip ... because YOU JUST NEVER KNOW when you'll end up spending time with an idol. :=) :=) Thank goodness, I did.
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